You must report work accidents, farmers are warned

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Bob GarnantCountryman
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Bailiwick Legal barrister Jason Raftos.
Camera IconBailiwick Legal barrister Jason Raftos. Credit: Bob Garnant/Countryman, Bob Garnant

An experienced barrister has urged shearers and farmers to deal with the proper authorities after farm accidents, saying those who fail to report incidents could be prosecuted.

Bailiwick Legal barrister Jason Raftos spoke at the WA Shearing Industry Association’s annual general meeting in East Perth on June 26.

He said the first phone call made after a serious accident should be St John Ambulance to care for the injured person.

Also at the top of the list of phone calls to make was WorkSafe — however uncomfortable that call may be.

“You must call WorkSafe if the incident involves a reportable injury — a list of what is reportable can be found on the WorkSafe website,” Mr Raftos said.

“If you don’t contact WorkSafe about a reportable injury, you could be prosecuted.”

Mr Raftos said WorkSafe representatives preferred to have communication as quickly as possible and urged farmers and shearers to be polite and co-operative.

But he said WorkSafe investigators had to acknowledge they were conducting an official interview.

“If possible, speak to your lawyer first, you don’t know always of who you are dealing with,” Mr Raftos said. “By calling your insurance company, you may be covered for lawyer fees.”

Mr Raftos said it was important not to give away what advice had been received from a lawyer — that’s called privilege.

“Always be careful of what you put on social media,” he said.

“Know your obligations — you have to take a more proactive stance with safety and you should know when you have to report an incident.”

He urged farmers and contractors to read WASIA and Australian Wool Innovation’s SafeSheds guide.

The 71-page document released by the two groups in November aimed to identify and control risks inside and outside the shearing shed.

It also aimed to boost contractors’ understanding of their duty of care, with a checklist and information about a mobile app to assess shearing shed working conditions.

WASIA executive officer Valerie Pretzel said more than 2000 copies of the Safe Sheds program had been distributed nationwide since November.

Ms Pretzel said the key was to get SafeSheds in the right hands.

“Copies are now available from WASIA, WorkSafe and AWI,” she said.

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